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A Walk Down Memory Lane: The Houses of the Holy

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BBC Closing Its Historic Maida Vale Studios

Artists rally behind London complex that’s hosted BBC performances since the 1930s

BBC Maida Vale studios (Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
BBC Maida Vale studios (Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)

The BBC has announced that it will depart and shut down its iconic Maida Vale Studios in north London. The complex, built in 1909, has been utilized by the BBC since the 1930s, playing host to the BBC Symphony Orchestra and World War II radio news bulletins. The space has hosted performances from icons like the Beatles, David Bowie, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Adele, JAY-Z, Nirvana, Joy Division, Oasis, and so many others. It’s where John Peel hosted his classic BBC Radio 1 sessions and was home to the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (best known for creating the “Doctor Who” theme song). Geoff Barrow of Portishead and Beak> is rallying against the decision, backed by artists including Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich.

BBC director general Tony Hall told staff in an email that Maida Vale will be replaced by a state-of-the-art facility in east London. It’s expected to be ready by 2022. “I understand how much our musical heritage at Maida Vale means to us, to artists and to audiences,” said Hall in the email. “We haven’t taken this decision lightly. But we’re determined to ensure that live music remains at the heart of the BBC and moving to this new development gives us the opportunity to do just that.”


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One of Detroit's cherished rock 'n' roll landmarks looks destined for the National Register of Historic Places.

After a decade-long quest by a determined group of supporters, the Grande Ballroom is set to make the federal registry, overseen by the National Park Service. It would join at least 18 other music and arts related properties in Detroit already on the list.

Approval would help the property qualify for tax credits, financing and grants — paving the way for restoration of the dilapidated building that was once the epicenter of Detroit's counterculture.

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Former city planner fights to save Fillmore West from wrecking ball
December 5, 2018

The Fillmore West lasted just three years, and Larry Mansbach saw just three shows there. He’s fuzzy on specifics, like which bands he saw, but he is clear on the significance of San Francisco’s most important rock venue during the crucial years of 1968-71, and he’s about to fight for it.

The two-story triangular building that housed the open-floor concert hall above an auto dealership where South Van Ness meets Market Street is facing demolition to make way for up to 984 units in one or two tall, mixed-use towers. The first public hearing before the Planning Commission is Thursday, Dec. 6.

There’s a public notice in the window of the closed Honda dealership, but it makes no mention of the Fillmore West or its predecessor, the Carousel Ballroom. It only mentions “demolition of an historical resource.”

Mansbach knows exactly what that means.

“The Fillmore West is part of San Francisco’s cultural history, and we are losing too much of it,” he said, pounding a fist on a conference table at his real estate office in the historic Hobart Building on Market Street.

Mansbach has the backing of a 78-page report compiled for the city as part of the draft environmental impact report, which the Planning Commission will consider Thursday. It declares the Fillmore West to be eligible for the California Register of Historic Resources.

“This is San Francisco, 1968. This is a disappearing species,” said architectural historian Debi Howell-Ardila, who compiled the report for SWCA Consulting. “It would be great if they could somehow keep the Fillmore West.”

Larry Mansbach looks over a notice for a public hearing posted on the building at the intersection of Market Street and South Van Ness Avenue where the Fillmore West used to be located on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 in San Francisco, Calif. Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

The Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors cannot ignore the finding. The Historic Preservation Commission recommends an interpretive program, which could be as simple as a historic plaque on the new building or a website explaining the legacy of the concert hall, which hosted such rock luminaries of the day as Led Zeppelin, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Sly and the Family Stone.

Jim Abrams, attorney for developer Crescent Heights, said there are plans to honor the site. But to Mansbach, nothing will do short of preserving the Fillmore West, which is still intact and was leased earlier this year to NPU Inc., a venue management company.

The company cleaned up 40 years of motor oil and now rents out the hall as an event space called SVN West. Mansbach wants the second-floor space incorporated into the new towers, an idea the developer says is impossible.

SVN West, an event space for rent and community programs at the old Fillmore West. Photo: NPU Inc.
SVN West in June, on the night of the first event hosted by NPU Inc. at the old Fillmore West. Photo: NPU Inc.

“I’m getting fed up with San Francisco history being demolished by the highest bidder,” Mansbach said.

There is much confusion about the Fillmore West, owing largely to the fact that it is not on Fillmore Street, not in the Fillmore district and not the same place as the flourishing Fillmore music hall on the corner of Geary Boulevard.

When the “San Francisco Sound” took hold in the mid-1960s, the two large concert venues were the Fillmore Auditorium, run by Bill Graham, and the Avalon Ballroom, run by Chet Helms. The Avalon, at Van Ness and Sutter, held about 500 and the Fillmore about 1,300.

Rock promoter Bill Graham at the Fillmore West, which was formerly the Carousel Ballroom, on July 2, 1968. Photo: Peter Breinig, The Chronicle

There was a third venue, an upstairs dance hall from the swing era originally named El Patio — “the Ballroom of Distinction” — and later changed to the Carousel Ballroom. It had a capacity of 1,500 and was sitting vacant. So the Big Four of San Francisco bands — Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother & the Holding Company — came together to open their own concert hall.

“It was a complete hippie outfit. You could use barter to get in,” said rock historian Joel Selvin, who has written many books about the scene. “It was also a slap in Bill Graham’s face.”

The Carousel didn’t last a year before Graham took over the lease. His first show, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Ten Years After, was on July 2, 1968. Once Graham opened the Carousel, he closed the Fillmore Auditorium and soon changed the name of his new club to the Fillmore West, a reference his other club, the Fillmore East, which he’d opened just three months before, in New York City.

Mansbach is certain that he saw the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore West, and it’s a good guess because the city’s house band played there something like 65 times.

An ad for upcoming four Fillmore West shows, featuring the Kinks and Elton John in the Nov. 8, 1970/ Photo: The Chronicle

But he missed Big Brother & the Holding Company’s final San Francisco show with its soon-to-be-departed singer Janis Joplin there. He also wasn’t there to see the Who perform the rock opera “Tommy” or to see Santana, Aretha Franklin or Miles Davis, who all made live albums in the room.

“The albums were recorded there because the Fillmore West had a worldwide reputation as the most important stage in the rock world,” Selvin said.

The place had decorative arches and an open wooden floor that doubled as a basketball court. No alcohol was served, and the cover charge was usually $3 or $5.

During its glory days, Mansbach was in school at George Washington High in the Richmond and wasn’t able to attend shows until he was a freshman living in the dorms at UC Berkeley, in 1971.

“I only caught it at the end, because there was an age issue,” he said.

By then, the building had been sold and was slated to be redeveloped into a 400-room Howard Johnson’s motor inn. Graham found a larger space at a ground-floor ice skating rink called Winterland Ballroom in what is now called Lower Pacific Heights. Graham had already been putting on shows there, but then he made it the center of his weekend operations.

John Entwistle of the Who in August 1969 at the Fillmore West during a performance of the rock opera “Tommy.” Photo: Courtesy, The Chronicle

It had a balcony with fixed seating all the way around and was three times the capacity of the Fillmore West, which Graham closed with an epic four-night flourish leading up to the Fourth of July, 1971.

It became a boxed set LP called “Fillmore: the Last Days,” and a documentary film. There is footage of Graham on the phone with band managers explaining why he was closing.

“I want it my way, and that’s why I am getting my f— ass out of here,” he shouted into the mouthpiece. “I’ve had to put up with too much for too long. Why do you think I want out? Because these groups have gotten too authoritarian.”

To make his point, Graham closed the Fillmore East simultaneously.

Winterland closed after a televised all-night show by the Dead and the Blues Brothers, with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, on New Year’s Eve 1978. It was leveled for apartments, and the only tribute was a restaurant named Winterland, which wasn’t even on the same site.

To Mansbach, that remains a travesty and an embarrassment, and he doesn’t want to see the Fillmore West vanish the same way.

“San Francisco was the international capital of music,” he said. “It is known wherever I travel, even now.”

Mansbach said he was a staff planner with the city Planning Department from 1977 to 1980 and that one of his old colleagues slipped him the historical report on the Fillmore West building, which was prepared in September 2016.

“I saw the address ‘10 South Van Ness’ and was shocked,” he said. Mansbach read the report, then cleared his calendar for 1 p.m. Thursday to be in the Planning Commission chambers at City Hall.

“This project, which is going to add hundreds of housing units, is a good project,” he said. “I’m going to testify that it incorporate the preservation of the Fillmore West.”



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Kooyong: Demolition taking Australia’s spiritual home of tennis back to basics

The former home of Australian tennis – Kooyong in inner Melbourne – is being taken back to its original form, with demolition work now well under way. The horseshoe-shaped arena is being stripped back to the low-line level of the early 1930s, removing upper echelons added in the 1950s.

Unlike the razing of the Sydney Football Stadium and major re-design of Sydney Olympic Park, Kooyong’s redevelopment acknowledges and celebrates its storied history. Billed as “the spiritual home of tennis in Australia”, Kooyong is the nation’s most original major sports stadium.

Although pre-dated by the MCG, SCG and Adelaide Oval, for example, it retains more of the original structures than our most revered stadia.

Kooyong’s upper stands are being removed as part of an $18 million upgrade of the private tennis club’s facilities. Built in 1926 and upgraded in 1934, Kooyong hosted 28 Australian Opens – the most before Melbourne Park took over in 1988. Kooyong was the permanent AO venue from 1972 to 1987, as well as the post-World War II venue of choice for Davis Cup finals.

To make more space for car parking for club members, Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club has won council approval to demolish the upper western and southern stands. Kooyong’s significance is that the green concrete bowl hosted many of Australia’s biggest international sports successes of the 20th century.

It also hosted sell-out concerts in the 1970s and ’80s featuring Elton John, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and David Bowie.

Historically, its preservation is as important as keeping iconic football/cricket and Olympic/Commonwealth Games stadia as monuments to our great sporting heritage.

Full article:



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On 2/9/2018 at 8:37 AM, sam_webmaster said:

Saving the Oakland Coliseum
The fading reputation of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum has damaged its ability to survive, let alone compete with newer Bay Area facilities. Here's how the sports complex's image, and perhaps its future, can be salvaged.



good article but I noticed it says Zep played there in 1979.

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Posted (edited)


8 minutes ago, sam_webmaster said:

Kooyong: Demolition taking Australia’s spiritual home of tennis back to basics

Very surprised by this. One almost never hears of scaling a venue back to it's original form.

Edited by SteveAJones

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